Study Shows Cats Have Left or Right Paw Preferences

Which Paw Does Your Cat Prefer?

By Catalina Barrios

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Are you right or left handed?


I’ve tried writing with my left hand and a two-year old does a much better job! I am right handed, but I know some who are ambidextrous. But, hand dominance is not only for humans. According to a study published in Animal Behavior, cats are either left or right paw dominant. Female cats tend to be right-pawed, while male cats are usually left-pawed. Lead researcher, Dr. Deborah Wells of Queen’s University in Belfast claims that the preference cats show for the right or left paw can be seen in their front paws.

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If you want to see which paw is dominant for your kitty, observe which paw comes out first when they start to walk.  Researchers studied 24 male and 20 female cats for a period of three months. Cat behaviors (lying side, stepping down a flight of stairs, stepping over a raised object) were analyzed.

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Wells said the paw preference may be an indicator of a cat’s vulnerability to stress, adding that left paw cats show stronger fear responses than their right pawed counterparts. Further research will investigate this connection.


Try testing with treats

The cats also took part in a food “reach test” involving delicious treats placed inside a three-tiered tower. The cats had 50 attempts to get the treat out of the tower. Paw preference was recorded for each attempt.

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At the end of thee study the data showed: 73% of cats demonstrated a paw preference when reaching for food, 70% had a preferred paw when going down the stairs and 66% had a paw preference when stepping into their litter tray. Interestingly, 25% of the cats even had a preference for which side they lay on.

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Which paw, pussycat?

Unlike humans, there was no preference among the overall population of cats for right-handedness, it is gender that influences it.

It hasn’t been determined why cats have a paw preference but according to Wells and her team, it may be linked to hormones.  Further research is needed to unravel these paw mysteries.

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Let us know if your cat is right or left pawed and what their gender is. Observe your pet to see which paw is used to reach for a favorite treat and report back right here!